Juicy January

Fresh Juice Smoothie Color Vegetables Bottles

Today is Day 14 of my Juicy January Juice Fast: the final day of a two week “Temple Cleanse” as I like to call it.

The old Temple (my body) has had a thrashing since I landed in France in September last year for a family holiday. It was a total food and wine fest (as it should be in France) and when I arrived back in Australia, well, the silly season had sort of begun already! All of the October and November birthdays had to be celebrated and that rolled straight into Christmas party season: there goes 2017! I had been treating my Temple like a nightclub for the last three months and it was time to give it some love.

For the last five years I have done a juice cleanse every January. I find that it sets me up for the year – both mentally and physically.

Mentally – by reaffirming my health and vitality beliefs (because of how amazing I feel afterwards) and by resetting all those sneaky little eating habits that creep in so insidiously. It requires a fair bit of discipline and focus to drink nothing but juice for 14 days and by creating the evidence that I can do it I feel supported in so many other areas of my life. I see juicing as the ultimate gift I can give my body and mind: it is a profound act of self-love.

Physically – because everything works better!! Those little aches and pains disappear, my digestive system works seamlessly, the holiday layer of fat disappears, my skin and eyes are clear and bright, and the list goes on.

One of my favourite benefits of juicing is how much better I sleep and the vivid and colourful dreams that I have. I read once that the cleaner our body is the closer we are able to move towards the Divine and this feels so true when I am having such meaningful and bright dreams.

I appreciate that juicing isn’t for everyone but if you are looking to do something new for your mind and body, then this might be it.

I had my first juice experience back in 2013 in Fiji at an event called Life Mastery. For eight days we drank juice and took part in activities that support wholeness, wellness, health and wealth. Alongside the juicing I had colonic irrigations (a first for me) and went to the day spa every second day. To say those eight days were life changing would be an understatement!

When I came home I got myself a juicer and started to include juicing in my everyday routine. My friends and family noticed a profound difference in me and things in my life were shifting as a result of me feeling so well.

A few months later my very dear friend Bron invited me to go and see a movie about juicing with her. Of course I said yes!

Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead 2  is the second part of the story of an Australian man, Joe Cross, and his life-changing journey with juice. Joe healed his body from chronic illness and totally changed the relationship he had with himself through juicing. He was so hardcore that he did 60 days of just juice and documented his journey. The results he achieved with his health and wellness were dramatic and far-reaching and prompted him to change the direction of his life to become an advocate for juicing.

After the film we got back in the car and I said to Bron “Well, it would be crazy not to do a juice fast after watching that movie!” so we scheduled it in and since then I have juiced every six or so months.

As well as Joe Cross, there is another man I deeply admire in the world of juicing – his name is Jason Vale.

Jason has also changed his health and vitality dramatically through juicing and has become one of the leaders in the field. He had several chronic auto immune disorders including eczema and colitis and was on a brutal regime of medication to manage these aliments.

When Jason discovered juicing his life changed as his health improved, and because of that he has dedicated his life to spreading the word. He made a film called Super Juice Me which documents the journey of eight chronically ill people on a 28 day juice fast at his retreat in Portugal, Juicy Oasis. It is a phenomenal film showing just how quickly our bodies can heal when we give them the right conditions to do so.

I firmly believe that our bodies want to be well. Their natural state is that of abundant health yet because of poor nutrition, pollution, and poor drinking water (not to mention our compromised mental and emotional health) we create an environment for “dis-ease” – also known as disease. If you can create an optimal environment for your body to be well, it will heal itself as it is hardwired to do.

For me, juicing is a key part of creating that environment. Perhaps it might be for you too?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Greatest Strength

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We are all born with a set of strengths.

These strengths sometimes come to us so naturally that we don’t recognise them as strengths, or perhaps we don’t credit them as strengths.

Some people are naturally good at communicating – they have no particular education or training around communication yet they have a real talent when speaking and influencing others. Some people are naturally good at being assertive, speaking up, and creating change. Some people are naturally gifted at resolving or minimising conflict.

These strengths often become the cornerstone of our lives. We choose careers where we are able to utilise them fully and they become defining characteristics of who we are. What is so fascinating, though, is that our greatest strength can become our greatest weakness when it is overused.

Imagine every personality trait or strength is a volume knob on a radio. When the knob is in that sweet spot, the noise coming out of the radio is perfect. You are able to hear the music clearly, it’s loud enough and it’s pleasant to be around.

When that control knob gets turned up to the higher end, it becomes very loud. The music is unpleasant because it hurts your ears, the sound quality is distorted and tinny, and ultimately you want to move away from the radio.

On the other hand, when the control knob gets turned too far down the other way, the music becomes so soft you can’t hear it. You might catch a note or two but you can’t figure out the lyrics and you know that you are missing the majority of the song.

Our natural strengths are like this. When we are utilising them in healthy and resourceful ways we get great results and we feel good. When we turn them down, they stop being visible in our life and become very hard to see and hear and they are no longer of service. And sometimes when we are stressed or are out of our comfort zone, our strengths get turned up. They get bigger and louder and start to impact us in a negative way. They have now become a weakness.

One of the most easily identifiable examples of this is with assertiveness. Assertiveness is an amazing strength to have. There are many people on the planet who would love to feel more assertive than what they are and they often look admiringly at the assertive people around them.

The problem is that when assertiveness is overdone it becomes bullying. The assertive person has gone from the strength of clear direction and the ability to get things done, to pushing and shoving in a forceful way.

Another example is the strength of being able to minimise conflict. When done well, everyone has the opportunity to speak and be heard and the conversation is led in a way where the outcome is successfully and peacefully reached.

When overdone, though, the strength of minimising conflict becomes a weakness when the conflict is avoided but the parties involved have not spoken up and been heard effectively. Often in this situation the participants leave feeling frustrated or diminished in some way.

For me, one of my greatest strengths is my adaptability. As a coach I have worked with 13 year olds and 65 year olds, men and women, and people from many different cultural backgrounds. My adaptability has allowed me to meet each of my clients where they are and connect to them from that place. Where my adaptability has become a weakness, though, is in intimate relationships – where I have adapted too far away from myself in pursuit of sustaining a relationship.

It would be easy for me to say “Well, adaptability isn’t a good thing for me; it has created problems in my life so I am going to turn the volume of it right down”. This would be a tragedy because it is one of my greatest strengths! I just have it turned up too loudly in this particular area of my life and it has therefore become unresourceful.

The skill is learning to regularly examine each area of your life and working out exactly where the volume knob (the strength) needs to be set to get the greatest results and to utilise that strength to its very fullest potential. Again, like most things it comes down to some robust self-examination, all the while being kind and loving to oneself.

 

Being versus Doing

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I believe that one of my greatest strengths is that I am good at getting things done.

I am definitely a doer – I love a good list, and I have a paper diary where I can track all sorts of things from tasks to be done to the days that I exercise. Being a doer has certainly helped me achieve some of my greatest accomplishments.

The thing about being a DOER though, is I often forget to BE, and the BEING is really how I want to be feeling while I am DOING all those things.  I get caught up in crossing things off my list and the end game, and can often forget to appreciate the process (the BEING). I sometimes forget to enjoy the ride in pursuit of just getting it done! The BEING though, is a key piece to feeling truly fulfilled.

Wayne Dyer, who I believe was one of the greatest spiritual teachers of our time, said “I am human being, not a human doing”

I love this quotation because it reminds me that one of the most important jobs here on earth is to BE; not just to DO. The DOING is greatly cheapened if we don’t appreciate, enjoy and celebrate the BEING. This includes appreciating the person we are (with or without the task being achieved, the goal being nailed, or the list being completed) and valuing the learning, embracing the growth, and finding joy and happiness in each day.

Our greatest education often comes from the journey (not the destination), and DOING is actually all about arriving. It’s about our identity and us seeing ourselves as our accomplishments and achievements rather than our character, personality, spiritual self or how we energetically “show up”.

Our society praises the DOING far more than the BEING so it is easy to forget to focus on it.  By simply asking yourself, “How do I want to feel today?” will bring you back into the BEING very quickly.  If you achieve great things each day yet are miserable, what is the point?

So many of the teachers I admire – from Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Myss, Brene Brown (and of course Wayne Dyer) – have all spoken passionately about honouring the BEING. Honouring the BEING is definitely a daily practise.

The rest of Wayne Dyer’s quotation says: “Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you are doing things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t do it, you aren’t”.

I love that man…he is so bloody smart!! The world certainly lost a phenomenal teacher when Wayne Dyer passed away.

Like so many paradoxes, day and night, black and white, yin and yang, BEING and DOING work together.  It’s all about having a healthy balance and ensuring that both of these states are being valued and practised.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you ready for an exceptional year?

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Unbelievably, here we are at the start of another year!

It felt like the year moved at lightening pace and compared to 2016, it was a much happier and brighter year for many people.

I always like the new year because it’s the perfect time for reflection and contemplation. How was the year that passed and how do I want the coming year to be?  It’s a time to take stock, appreciate the amazing things that happened, learn from the moments that weren’t so great and get clear on how we are going to show up for the next 12 months.

It’s a great time to create a list so you are able to track your progress, not only through the year but over the years to come. I love to read other people’s blogs and I came across a particularly awesome one during the year by Robin Sharma. It’s a list that he has created and I wanted to share it with you.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Robin Sharma, he is considered to be one of the top 5 leadership experts in the world. He is a best selling author, speaker, coach and mentor and his work is embraced by rock stars, royalty, billionaires and many celebrity CEOs.

This particular blog is made up of 60 different tips to include in your life so that you “craft an exceptional life”

Robin Sharma says ” Ultimately, life goes by in a blink. And too many people live the same year 80 times. To avoid getting to the end and feeling flooded regret over a life half-lived, read and then apply these tips”

Here they are:

  1. Exercise daily.
  2. Get serious about gratitude.
  3. See your work as a craft.
  4. Expect the best and prepare for the worst.
  5. Keep a journal.
  6. Read “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin”.
  7. Plan a schedule for your week.
  8. Know the 5 highest priorities of your life.
  9. Say no to distractions.
  10. Drink a lot of water.
  11. Improve your work every single day.
  12. Get a mentor.
  13. Hire a coach.
  14. Get up at 5 am each day.
  15. Eat less food.
  16. Find more heroes.
  17. Be a hero to someone.
  18. Smile at strangers.
  19. Be the most ethical person you know.
  20. Don’t settle for anything less than excellence.
  21. Savor life’s simplest pleasures.
  22. Save 10% of your income each month.
  23. Spend time at art galleries.
  24. Walk in the woods.
  25. Write thank you letters to those who’ve helped you.
  26. Forgive those who’ve wronged you.
  27. Remember that leadership is about influence and impact, not title and accolades.
  28. Create unforgettable moments with those you love.
  29. Have 5 great friends.
  30. Become stunningly polite.
  31. Unplug your TV.
  32. Sell your TV.
  33. Read daily.
  34. Avoid the news.
  35. Be content with what you have.
  36. Pursue your dreams.
  37. Be authentic.
  38. Be passionate.
  39. Say sorry when you know you should.
  40. Never miss a moment to celebrate another.
  41. Have a vision for your life.
  42. Know your strengths.
  43. Focus your mind on the good versus the lack.
  44. Be patient.
  45. Don’t give up.
  46. Clean up your messes.
  47. Use impeccable words.
  48. Travel more.
  49. Read “As You Think”.
  50. Honor your parents.
  51. Tip taxi drivers well.
  52. Be a great teammate.
  53. Give no energy to critics.
  54. Spend time in the mountains.
  55. Know your top 5 values.
  56. Shift from being busy to achieving results.
  57. Innovate and iterate.
  58. Speak less. Listen more.
  59. Be the best person you know.
  60. Make your life matter.

I just LOVED this list, there is so much gold in it!

So as you moved forward into the new year, take a handful of these beautiful tips and add them to your life.

If you truly are committed to living an exceptional life, take and apply them all.

Happy new year and may your 2018 be your best year yet.

 

Five Strategies for making friends with FEAR

Fear

In last week’s blog I talked about fear and how it can really cripple us if we don’t learn how to have a healthy relationship with it. Fear is a part of life – we cannot avoid it – so the best way forward is to make friends with it and utilise it as a force for good.

The sort of fear that I am referring to is not the “walking in a dark alley at night” sort of fear but more the “I don’t think I can do it” fear, or the “If I speak up, I might get laughed at” fear. This type of fear is what keeps us small, not ever reaching our full potential, and ultimately changes the direction of our lives.

Some people spend their lives trying to avoid fear, in fact they are so fearful of fear that they live in a continuous and constant state of fear! Ironic really. Facing off with fear can be a truly liberating experience. It gives us the chance to create powerful evidence that we can act in spite of fear or worry, that yes, we can do it!

People who are successful in life, no matter what area that is, have come up with ways to engage with their fear and use it as vehicle to create change, innovate, be courageous or just make amazing things happen.

Like anything in life, having a plan or strategy of what you can do to help you move through an emotion is always extremely useful, particularly with fear. Because of the physiological response to fear, it can easily paralyse us if there is no plan in place.

Here are my top five personal strategies for facing off with my fear when it comes up:

  1. The Five Second Rule – The Five Second rule is the work of Mel Robbins and it is a truly powerful tool! It is a very simple technique where we are harnessing the fact that our brain will start talking us out of doing something within five seconds and if we don’t act within that time, more than likely the moment is lost. Robbins discovered this tool over ten years ago when she was in a highly unmotivated and fearful place. Everything was going wrong in her world and she literally couldn’t get herself to take action on the matters that were most important to her such as her family, her health, her finances, her career and her happiness.

The reason I love this rule is because it is SO simple! The way it works is like this: an idea pops into your head (for example putting your hand up in a meeting with your peers to share an idea; a new business idea to further expand your business; or getting out of bed and not hitting the snooze button) and you literally count down from five to one and then take action on it.

By counting down in this way, it activates your prefrontal cortex. Your prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain that makes decisions, plans and works toward goals. When you count backwards, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – you take control of your prefrontal cortex instead of letting it control you.

That simple act of consciously taking control of your decision-making process creates “activation energy”. The energy it takes to get something started is much greater than the amount of energy it takes to keep something going. It’s that first step that’s the doozy. That’s where the Five Second Rule comes in to help you retrain your responses. Replace that initial “negative” or “unproductive” instinct with a positive one and you’ll develop new neural pathways that result in lasting behaviour change. You’ll become a doer, instead of a thinker, and when fear is involved that is crucial!

  1.  Appreciation  and Gratitude – In his book, What Happy People Know, Dan Baker explains that it is impossible for us to experience fear or anxiety and appreciation simultaneously. This is a great little brain trick to help us manage fear in the moment and move out of it so we are able to take action.

“During active appreciation,” Baker writes, “the threatening messages from your amygdala (the fear centre of the brain) and the anxious instincts of your brainstem are cut off, suddenly and surely, from access to your brain’s neocortex, where they can fester, replicate themselves, and turn your stream of thoughts into a cold river of dread. It is a fact of neurology that the brain cannot be in a state of appreciation and a state of fear at the same time. The two states may alternate, but are mutually exclusive.”.

What this means is that when we experience fear or anxiety and we are able to consciously move ourselves to a state of appreciation and gratitude, the fear must diminish. Pretty exciting hey! I love this strategy as it is again super simple and also conditions us to become even more appreciative of our lives.

  1. Future Pacing – Future pacing is a Neuro-Linguistic Programmingtechnique that utilises the fact that the mind cannot tell the difference between imagination and current reality. By imagining something so fully and deeply as if it were real, the mind then acts as if the change has already taken place. It accepts the imagined situation and then goes forward to create it.

In practice, future pacing techniques include having a person first imagine a new and improved change further out in time. By using your modalities – visual, auditory and kinaesthetic – you simply imagine what you would see, what you would hear as well as feeling the feelings that would occur if the event was successful. By turning these up and really connecting with them, we create a strong image in our minds which our unconscious mind accepts.

Future pacing is a great strategy to use when we have an event coming up that we feel nervous or fearful about. We can literally practice the event in our minds eye and train our unconscious mind to create that event for us.

  1. There is no failure, only feedback – Create a list of success principles that support you taking action in the face of fear. One of my most favourite success principles is –

There is no failure, only feedback

This reframes our fear of getting it wrong or stuffing it up into a learning opportunity. If it doesn’t go how you want it to or it fails, then you have received feedback, powerful feedback because you can now do it differently. This is where innovation lives – the innovators are the ones that live by this rule.

Thomas Edison, the inventor of the incandescent light bulb, said “I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work”. He absolutely had the philosophy that there is no failure, only feedback. There are so many successful people that live by this principle including Michael Jordon, Oprah Winfrey, J K Rowling, John Grisham and Eminem.

  1. Challenge it – So often we accept what our mind tells us. Whatever the little voice of fear is saying, it’s most probably not true. Yet we don’t naturally challenge these thoughts. We buy into them and then let them dictate our behaviour.

The fearful part of us is irrational and overprotective. Its intention is pure but it doesn’t see us in all of our greatness, it just wants to keep us safe.

It might be saying you are likely to fall flat on your face if you take a risk, or that no one will like your ideas, it’s far better to stay quiet. It might be saying that moving to a new city could hurt your children and you don’t want to screw them up! Or what about leaving your safe and secure, yet horribly boring job? Imagine all the bad things that would happen if the new job is worse?

Unless we challenge these thoughts, we will accept them and behave in alignment with them. Sure, we may stay safe but, gee, we also stay pretty small!

This strategy is around questioning and examining those fear-based thoughts. Ask yourself, “Is what this voice is saying true?”, “What could be another alternative to the one I am currently thinking about?”.

Byron Katie, the author of Loving What Is and the creator of The Work, uses this question “Can I be absolutely sure that this thought is true?” as her primary question and it is a really powerful one! So often, once we have challenged these thoughts, the answer to these questions, especially the latter one, is most often “no.”

 

I trust that one or more of these strategies are useful for you in growing your relationship with fear. Remember that fear has a great intention – it is just trying to keep us safe. So often though, safety and greatness live in different places.

 

Are you willing to make friends with FEAR?

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There are not many people who really enjoy the emotional state of fear, but I do believe that there are many people who have learnt to harness it and use it as a force for good. People across history and time have achieved amazing things in spite of being totally shit-scared in the process! And huge kudos to them, there is nothing more admirable then raw courage!!

Thinking back to some of the early explorers on the planet, they must have been really focused on the outcome rather than all the things that could have possibly gone wrong. When you are on a boat and you think the world is flat but you are courageous enough to risk sailing right of the edge, well, yep, you have definitely got a handle on how you allow fear to show up in your world!

In contrast, there are also many people who are so paralysed by fear that they live locked in their homes, locked in their lives solely focused on minimising and reducing situations where fear may show up. This is a tough gig because if what you focus on expands (and it does), and you add to that what quantum physics says about placing your attention on something specific, then those people are up the creek without a paddle!

Their fear only has one possibility – it’s going to expand and therefore create even more of what they are desperately trying to avoid.

The thing about fear is that we can’t get away from it. It’s hardwired into our brain and is a part of our genetic makeup. If it wasn’t we would all be dead by now so it really is something to be grateful for!

The part of our brain that deals with fear is called the reptilian brain. It is the oldest part of our brain (as in millions of years old) and its primary job is to keep us alive. It takes care of many of our unconscious activities too, like breathing and processing food.

So if we can’t avoid fear altogether (and yet we seem more scared than ever) how do we move forward?

We develop strategies….

A strategy is a plan of action designed to move us towards our outcome. Strategies help us act in the face of uncertainty. They also keep us on track as we move towards a goal, whether it be a big one or a small one. Having some simple strategies up our sleeve can really help us take action in spite of fear or worry.

Plus, when we utilise our strategies and they are successful, we create references that we can do it: we now have evidence of our ability to act in the face of strong emotions so we feel more courageous about acting next time. Now, we are starting to condition ourselves.

Conditioning is defined as bringing something into the desired state for use. Like you would condition your muscles if you are a runner, you can condition your mind to act in spite of fear or worry.

This process is all VERY simple, though not necessarily easy. The physiological response we have to fear can really knock us for a six, our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes more shallow, our palms get sweaty so remaining focused does take a little more energy. That’s why having some strategies to move through this feeling as well as manage it with elegance are so important.

I will share my top five fear-managing-strategies with you next week. In the meantime, start to notice how and when fear is showing up in your life because, like everything, it all starts with self-awareness.

 

 

The Disease of Disconnection

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We are in crisis!

A crisis of disconnection.

True connection, real, authentic and deep connection is becoming harder to come by and frankly, it appears we are losing skills that are really too valuable to let go off.

In our fast paced world, where time is money and looking good is more important than connection, we have create a culture where authentic connection is no longer valued in the same way it once was. This certainly appears to have bought great change to our society, and in my opinion, not for the better.

Do you remember a time when you shopped at a store and knew the majority of the staff who you would happily chat with? A time where you would give your postman a present at Christmas  because he had been bringing your family the mail for the last ten years? A time when a friendship was about hanging out and conversation, instead of snapchats, insta pic’s and texting?

I was reading a great article this morning by Dan Schawbel , he was interviewing one of my all time favourite women,  Brene Brown on Why Human Connection will bring us closer and the article covered many great distinctions. One of the most powerful ones is around the fact that fear is keeping us separated.

Brene Brown said “We’ve sorted ourselves into factions based on our politics and ideology. We’ve turned away from one another and toward blame and rage. We’re lonely and untethered. And scared. Any answer to the question “How did we get here?” is certain to be complex. But If I had to identify one core variable that magnifies our compulsion to sort ourselves into factions while at the same time cutting ourselves off from real connection with other people, my answer would be fear. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of the pain of disconnection. Fear of criticism and failure. Fear of conflict. Fear of not measuring up. When we ignore fear and deny vulnerability, fear grows and metastasizes. We move away from a belief in common humanity and unifying change and move into blame and shame. We will do anything that gives us a sense of more certainty and we will give our power to anyone who can promise easy answers and give us an enemy to blame.”

I found this paragraph very interesting as it reminded me of the three universal fears that every human being is contending with each day.  They are:

  • The fear of not being enough
  • The fear of not belonging
  • The fear of not being loved

Whether or not you identify these fears within yourself consciously, it has been proven that they are in operation within all of us.  The variable though, is how we manage them. For some people, they are very small and have a low impact on their lives, for others, these fears dominate each waking moment.

It seems so topsy turvey that in pursuit of minimising these fears we have actually magnified them.  We portray ourselves as having tons of friends who we are constantly doing cool stuff with on social media yet we are more lonely than ever.

We dress in certain clothes and go to certain places to feel like we belong, like we are part of a tribe but really all we are trying to do is fit in, blend in and be enough. Its not true belonging at all.

Brown goes on to say “True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. If we are going to change what is happening in a meaningful way we’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up and join, and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness”

What stands out in what Brown says, is that it’s all about vulnerability, truly letting ourselves be seen, even if that brings up fear in us.  Until we are prepared to be uncomfortable, to take a chance, then we will continue to repeat the patterns that we have formed.

As much as technology is a powerful tool and there is certainly much to be grateful for, I am sadden that the cost of it has been a diminishment of authentic and deep connection.

If you would like to read the full article, check out Forbes Magazine

But you signed the contract…

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I have just watched the film Stronger on a flight between Perth and Sydney. It was a beautiful and inspiring film about tragedy and triumph.

Stronger is the story of Jeff Bauman, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013.  Jeff was at the finish line waiting for his ex-girlfriend who was competing to cross the line.  He was desperately trying to win her back and had turned up to demonstrate his love for her. He was right next to the first bomb that was detonated and he suffered devastating damage to his legs. He lost both of his legs and the film is the story of his journey back to himself.

Sometimes life seems to deal totally unfair blows to us – and this certainly looks like one of those situations. The film left me thinking about the “Spiritual Contracts” we sign before we come to (or return to) the Earth Plane.

Specifically, it got me thinking about Jeff’s Spiritual Contract and what a life being an amputee would mean for him. I was curious about what he had learnt and how he would consider the whole event four years later.

So what is a “Spiritual Contract”?

A Spiritual Contract is an agreement that we make on the Spiritual Plane to ensure that we are set up to learn all the soul lessons that we want to here in this life on the Earth Plane. It may be a lesson of resilience, determination, courage, or forgiveness – or it could be anything that will evolve our soul and continue us on our spiritual path.

I first learnt about Spiritual Contracts from two of my favourite teachers – Dr Wayne Dyer and Carolyn Myss. I consider both to be leaders in the field of spirituality. They were lecturing together and both referenced how we enter into contracts or agreements with other’s souls, so that we are able to expand, grow and get the education that we need. The catch is that often this contract shows up in the form of pain of some sort.

This whole concept resonated so deeply with me as I love the thought that any challenge, tragedy or period of suffering we go through has an opportunity of great learning for us. It creates the possibility of us being able to step into a new version of ourselves; a version we never would have discovered if we had not been pushed to the outer limits of ourselves.

To think that when we were planning the purpose of this life now we chose events and people to come in to our lives so we have a chance to expand and grow. Not only did we choose them, but they chose us! We made a contract together and we both signed it, agreeing to support each other’s soul in achieving the teachings of this lifetime (again, only if we are willing to rise to the challenge).

I can appreciate that this is may be a bit left-of-centre for some of you, but just think about it for a minute: think of an event in your life where something bad, sad or mad happened and then ask yourself: “What did I learn from this?”.

From great loss comes great appreciation;

From great sadness comes great connection; and

From great fear comes great courage.

I firmly believe that if you have found some level of growth, expansion, compassion, gratitude etc and then go on to live resourcefully, then the contract has been successfully filled and completed. Sometimes this may take days and sometimes this may take decades.

For Jeff Bauman, his journey was a tough one – a very tough one – yet he rose to become an even better version of himself. What initially seemed to be the most devastating event that could happen to someone ended up providing him with an opportunity of immense growth.

My other conclusion with these Spiritual Contracts is that we choose them on the Spiritual Plane because if we had any idea of the enormity of experiencing it down here, then maybe we would choose differently.

No one likes pain yet there is no better classroom when we are able to move through it.

If plan A doesn’t work there are still twenty five letters left in the alphabet

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I was with my nieces on the weekend and we were talking about “The Plan”. We are off on holidays soon and were brainstorming ideas about what to do and how to get around. I was questioning one of the plans because of time and location and my niece said to me:

“If Plan A doesn’t work, Auntie Kate, there are still twenty five letters left in the alphabet”.

I smiled from the bottom of my soul when I heard this! I thought not only is it very cute, it shows that the girls are adaptable and flexible and willing to go with the flow. These are such important “soft” skills for kids to learn.

All of these traits I would put under the one umbrella of “behavioural flexibility”. Behavioural flexibility is one of the most important skills we can teach our children. If they understand it and can demonstrate it, then they are on the road to a successful adulthood.

Behavioural flexibility is the skill of being able to change our behaviour to meet the person or situation in front of us. The opposite of that is a person expecting the world to always come to them. If it doesn’t come to them they tend to show their unhappiness is a variety of ways – everything from not speaking and sulking, right through to a complete emotional hijacking or tantrum.

One of my favourite sayings in the world is: “The person with the most behavioural flexibility controls the room”. That means that whoever is the most adaptable and can engage with each person (even though each person is different) becomes the most powerful. By powerful, I mean influential.

The same can be said for situations: the person who is able to adapt quickly and graciously and remain in a resourceful state is going to be the person who gets promoted and moves up the chain of command. They have demonstrated that they can handle uncertainty and are willing to come up with Plan B through to Plan Z if need be. In a non-working environment they are the person who is able to move through life with minimal stress and far more pleasure. They roll with the punches!

Behavioural flexibility is really about uncertainty. It’s about how much uncertainty you can handle whilst still remaining in control. For some people, if Plan A doesn’t work the wheels fall off and the whole thing becomes pointless – a total disaster! For others, if Plan A doesn’t work they see it as a chance to get creative and think outside the square. The major distinction here is that one person hates uncertainty and fights it, whereas the other person sees it as an opportunity for growth and development.

One of the great disservices we are doing our children at the moment is not allowing them to experience high levels of uncertainty. We are therefore limiting the development of their behavioural flexibility. Everyone getting a ribbon at the sports carnival, or every layer of “pass the parcel” having a gift in it is actually way more damaging than we realise (in my opinion). These types of situations are the practice ground for real life disappointment and uncertainty, and when we take away their chance to practice in a safe and secure environment we are setting them up for a big fall.

I work with young adults (18, 19 and 20 year olds) and it astounds me that when Plan A doesn’t work they immediately look to someone else for guidance or become so overwhelmed that they’re actually a bit useless. They have not yet developed the ability to think outside the square and their behavioural flexibility is SO limited. This is not because they can’t do it but because their opportunities to practice these soft skills during their childhood and adolescence were so limited. Everything was taken care of and they have not experienced or had to self-manage some of those emotional states that feel yuk.

This is not their fault. We need to be looking to ourselves as adults and question how we can develop more behavioural flexibility – not only within us but in our children too.

Behavioural flexibility really is one of life’s greatest skills to acquire.

 

 

 

Perseverance, where are you my Friend?

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Why do some people give up while others just keep on pushing through? Is perseverance a learnt behaviour or is there an innate predisposition to it?

I recently returned to yoga after a couple of years off.  Yoga for me has always been more about the mental exercise rather than the physical exercise.  I do hot yoga so as well as my body being stretched to its limit, I also have the heat to contend with and heat – I have learnt over the years – brings a whole other set of mental challenges.

What I noticed over my first few weeks back was that I was very quick to give up on a posture once it hurt too much or was too uncomfortable.  The mind chatter would start and totally let me off the hook: “Kato, you don’t want to hurt yourself, maybe you should just have a little sit down” or “Kato, your heart is beating particularly fast, I think you should rest for a minute”.

The first month or so I gently eased myself back into yoga, not even considering for a moment that I could have been working much harder. I mean, I was just loving myself for finally getting back in the room. That was my “Get Out Of Jail Free” card: I was there so I don’t have to push myself too hard!

It wasn’t until I was in a class being taught by the studio owner, Hannah, about five or six weeks in.  Hannah is an old friend of mine and funnily enough we did our very first yoga class together back in 2008.

Hannah is an excellent teacher and I noticed that as I participated in her class I dug deeper, tried harder, gritted my teeth through the pain more, and turned a corner. I left that class feeling amazing – I knew that I had given it everything I had and I was basking in the glow of tired muscles and a detoxed body.

It was after this class that I really got thinking: “How come I was willing to work so much harder in today’s class? How come my perseverance really showed up today?”.

I realised that I wanted to do my best for Hannah.  I am externally motivated and because I care about her, I wanted to give it 100% to show her I appreciate her teaching.

This bought up a new question: had the perseverance always been inside me or did I just develop it today?

The intuitive answer that came to me is that it was always there – I just hadn’t tapped into it in a really long time.  It had been dormant or I had totally ignored it.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend of mine, Lee.  She has just returned home from Mount Kilimanjaro and I was fascinated to hear about her trip and more specifically the walk up the mountain. I thought she would be able to offer more insight into perseverance.

Lee’s journey sounded tough! It took five days to get up the mountain and on the fourth night, they slept for just a few hours before getting up at 2am and then hiking for 11 hours to the summit. She said it was so cold and her bones were aching with fatigue. It was minus 20 degrees at the peak so the exhilaration of getting there was heavily balanced with staying warm.

I asked Lee what it took to get up that last section of the mountain and she looked me in the eye and said “Everything. It took everything.” and she smiled that wistful smile of a person who has conquered the world. She said: “I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it – it was literally a step-by-step process.  Everything hurt and I was just so cold and tired. I used up every last resource I had in my body”.

How easy would it have been to quit? Very!!

Except she couldn’t quit: she had flown across an ocean to get there, taken time away from her family and friends, used leave time from work, spent the money, and gotten nine tenths up the mountain. She was therefore totally invested.

And her perseverance showed up when she asked it to.

I truly believe that we are capable of so much more than what we expect from ourselves. Maybe it’s our beliefs around not being good enough or the task being too hard. Maybe it’s us worrying about what people think or don’t think, and maybe for each of us the reasons are different, but I feel certain that perseverance lives happily and well within all of us.

We just have to call on it more often.